INDIANAPOLIS – For me, it finally sank in at the inauguration last Friday. It was finally real to me that Donald Trump was our president. It didn’t seem real on election night because it was almost 3 a.m. when he finally gave an acceptance speech, and we had been kicked out of the JW Marriott’s ballroom an hour earlier. Some of us lingered by the televisions in the lobby but I finally made it up to our room and watched his speech with Anita as the kids slept – pretty anti-climactic.  
    
The next morning was surreal and the weeks that followed were a flurry of some campaign-related activities while trying to get back to normal work. The holidays hit and we even took a family vacation to try to get away from it all before the start of our Indiana legislative session.
    
So I never really had a chance for it to sink in, but it finally did as I listened to our new president give a powerful speech, where he essentially took the first major step in fulfilling the goals he set forth during the campaign. The speech showed the world that he meant what he campaigned on and was not reluctant to share this vision boldly in front of supporters and skeptics alike. During the campaign, I often said that he was going to be a bold and decisive leader. He has shown this to be true during the transition and in his first week in office.  
    
Many people have asked why I supported Trump from the start and how did I know he could win? It does actually come down to the leadership aspect. Despite all of the differences between this and other campaigns and despite all of the distractions, when you are picking a president you should be selecting someone with leadership capabilities and a vision to use those qualities to move the country forward and make it better and safer for all Americans. For me, that person was Donald Trump.  
    
Many others felt the same way, from Indiana’s own Mike Pence, who played a huge role, doing a tremendous job on the campaign trail as he will now as vice president, to  Rex Early, Suzie Jaworowski, Cody Reynolds and a small group behind the scenes. But even more important to the effort in Indiana were the thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters around the state. These folks gave us a first on-the-board, 20-point victory in Indiana, helping the down-ballot Republicans sweep into office. Those same Trump supporters essentially ended the nomination process six months earlier with a sweep of all 57 Indiana delegates on primary night.  
    
We all knew that Donald Trump had the strength to lead this nation and we were inspired by him. As the campaign wore on, I was amazed at what he was able to carry on his shoulders; taking on 16 other candidates through the primaries and debates while also battling the national media, the Democrat Party and candidates, and the Republican naysayers.  He only got stronger throughout the long arduous effort and he was able to distinguish himself from Hillary with a message that resonated with America because he was talking about issues that concern us all.    
    
The criticism will continue from all sides. We took a wrong turn Saturday and actually walked through all of the protesters as they marched with their very creative and colorful signs, some with language that cannot be printed in this column. The protests did, however, reaffirm that we have a lot of work to do to bring this country together and that there must be dialogue.  
    
I know some will scoff at this notion, but I believe that President Trump has the goal in his heart to unite the country and has the personal qualities to do that.  
    
He was great to me on a surprise phone call in April to ask what was needed in Indiana before the primary.  He’s been extremely friendly and approachable when I’ve talked to him in person. He was wonderful to my wife and kids when they had the chance to meet him, an encounter we turned into our Christmas card. He is sincere and genuine, loves people and loves this country. That’s a pretty good combination on the personal side.  
    
Combine those qualities with his professional determination and his drive to always come out on top and you have a man of action who will work to make America and Americans successful.
    
I had a small role, a walk-on part in the war, as the song goes, but I’m honored to have been of some help to our new president. I’m also very glad to have the opportunity to write this column for Howey Politics. I’ll get more into issues as we move along and I’ll try to share some stories from the campaign trail. Rex and I and others made over 50 county visits in nine weeks, so you know I have some good ones.  
    
Most of all I want to make it clear that it’s okay to admit that you like Trump. A lot of us voted for him. And even more importantly, it’s okay to root for his success as president. His success is our nation’s success. That’s what we need now as Americans.  

Samuel was vice chairman of President Trump’s Indiana campaign and works at SamuelSolutions in Indianapolis. He becomes a regular HPI columnist.